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Second presidential candidate dodges questions in open forum

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Ohio University’s second Presidential Candidate Open Forum brought Dean L. Bresciani, president of North Dakota State University, to Baker Center Ballroom late Thursday afternoon, where he presented a wide range of progressive ideas for the university.

Bresciani took stances in favor of many issues, including continuing to grow OU’s graduate student population, promoting research activity at OU, emphasizing the legacy and history of the institution, balancing humanities with STEM field classes and promoting student organizations that reflect classroom interest.

“Our faculty being productive leads to the productivity and success of our students,” Bresciani said.

The NDSU president also embraced what he called “productive” activism, a term he defined as helping to change something, differing from what he described as activism to simply say something. He also tackled installing more gender neutral bathrooms, saying “In some sense, it’s a nonexistent problem being made a problem. The answer is obvious and there’s no reason that we can’t have gender neutral facilities.”

He answered questions on state performance-based funding and educating the public on what tenure is and is not, stating “tenure is one of the most misunderstood aspects of a research university.”

However, Bresciani pleaded a lack of knowledge on many topics and evaded answering others. On some topics he simply felt he did not have enough experience, including whether increasing the number of tenured professors at OU would be appropriate and if OU faculty are paid competitively.

He also acknowledged he had little to no experience with sustainability and would not speak as to how he would advance sustainability at OU.

He was similarly vague about his opinion on the Safe Transfer Act and similar legislature. The proposed Californian act would require college administrators to note sexual assault on student transcripts if the student is found guilty.

“We head in a slippery direction when we start adding behavior of a student on an academic transcript, and I’m not sure without further thought and discussion where the fine line is of what is appropriate,” Bresciani said.

The college administrator also wavered on if he would cut the athletics budget. The North Dakota Attorney General investigated Bresciani in July 2013 on a felony charge of tampering with public records. He said the AG found the missing emails were deleted by an auto-purge function on his computer but did not answer how he would be transparent and deal with Ohio’s public records law.

The next presidential forum will feature Robert Frank, the president of The University of New Mexico, on Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m. in Baker Center Ballroom. A livestream of the event can be found here.

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